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Sideroblastic Anemia
June 2002

Q. My dad had been diagnosed with Sideroblastic anemia. I have found a few web sites discussing it, but none state how long one can live with it. I am in the US military and don't want to spend my father's last year on the other side of the world. Is there a site that gives life expectancies for this kind of stuff? Can you tell me what the typical prognosis is for this disease?

A. Anemia refers to a low red blood cell count. Since the red blood cells deliver oxygen to the brain, muscles, and organs, anemia deserves diagnosis and treatment. Sideroblasts are the imperfect cells produced by the bone marrow when it loses its ability to incorporate iron into the hemoglobin part of the red blood cell. Sideroblastic anemia can be inherited, result from exposure to various toxins, and can occur in the absence of any known cause.

In addition to the anemia itself, iron from the diet can accumulate and deposit in the liver and other organs, causing damage. Treatment consists of blood transfusions and measures to prevent this excess iron accumulation. Prognosis should be discussed with the doctors involved.



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